Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Girls Read Comics t-shirt project

One of the niftier aspects of Twitter is the ease you can bat around ideas on there. Someone suggests something and another pipes up with an even better idea or comes up with a way to make it happen. One of those nifty things happened last night.

In the last couple of the weeks, there have been several articles and one contest tied to San Diego Comic Con, all belittling or demeaning female participation at this cons. The LA Times would have you think women only go to Comic Con to look at the hot male celebrities. The District 9 contest at first didn't even include women until a lot of people, including Johanna Draper Carlson pointed it out. They've since changed their rules. And that paragon of dating advice Penthouse magazine(NSFW link) is implying that comic cons are all about sex and hookups. So women are just there for the guys, no matter how you look at it.

No one mentions the numbers of women who read, write, draw, edit and critique comics every day. No one mentions all the talented women who love comics for comics. These women could argue you under the table with issue numbers on their favorite characters and why they're misunderstood and unloved and appreciated. They love superheroes, they devour manga and they'll discover the quirky indie books you always wanted to try. And y'know, it gets really frustrating and tiring being told that's just the way things are and maybe you just smile and you'll just enjoy yourself more. And they wonder why people perceive the comics industry the way they do.

In that ugly maelstrom, Deb Aoki of manga.about.com, suggested on twitter that we needed some sort of protest t-shirt, some visible way of showing the industry that we exist and we're not going away anytime soon. That sparked a great round of suggestions for slogan ideas. Some are pithier than others. One nifty idea was a three-panel using "Girls Read Comics"/"Girls Buy Comics"/"Girls Write Comics"/"Girls Draw Comics" as the word balloons.

So how can you help? Deb is looking for female artists to contribute artwork -- one panel of art depicting a female character in American superhero, Indie or Manga style, with an empty word balloon. The word balloons would include the "Girls Read Comics" style slogans, with variants with "women" as an alternative. T-shirts would be sold online at Zazzle with the proceeds going towards your choice of comics-oriented charity, including MOCCA, Heroes Initiative and Friends of Lulu. Also potentially buttons, bumper stickers, and banners for bloggers.

Submissions: Women artists please contact Deb at debaoki at hotmail dot.com. Published artists are especially welcome. Please sign your work. Artwork needs to be in before June 29th since Comic-Con is fast fast approaching.

If you can't draw, then do what I'm doing. Blog about this idea, forward it around, especially if you know female artists who might be interested in helping. The more people get behind this idea the better.

For more information, Erica Friedman of Okazu, has also posted about the project on her blog.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

A change will do you good

I've expounded at length on Twitter and elsewhere about my woes with my comics pull list. I won't go into all the gory details, but suffice it to say, I wasn't a happy customer. But the options in the DC metro area are surprisingly limited. Some places require a minimum number of books before you can have a pull list; at that point I wasn't certain I was buying enough to manage that minimum.

So I started checking the options online. Having books shipped directly to my door sounded like a win-win combination to me, even if my credit card is having severe doubts.

I went with Discount Comic Book Service. I had heard good things about their service from other customers and I had a good experience with their sister site Instocktrades. The process was mostly painless. I filled out their massive Excel spreadsheet, uploaded it, and voila! My order appears up on the screen – as long as you marked the right space, you should get the right issue, no questions on whether it's the right title or if it's spelled correctly.

Now it's not without human error. I filled out my lovely spreadsheet for my first month only to discover after the fact I'd left off a title. No problem, I emailed their customer service and it was promptly added to my shipment. For future shipments, I have been much more careful to double and triple check things "Did I miss anything?" Of course I always do forget something.

Those Excel spreadsheets are extremely deadly. They contain everything off the Previews catalog, including all the variants, trades/hardcovers, manga, merchandise – you name it. They're also very nicely discounted, so you can afford that extra trade sometimes. I really had to reign myself in a few times in the follow-up months, which have gotten progressively more expensive. Even with discounts, you have to know your limits. Do I really need that Absolute? Can I live without that mini series? Oh, that's finally out in trade, should I get it? It's a vicious circle.

Customers have a couple of shipping options – weekly, biweekly or monthly. I went monthly, so my books go out after the last book ships. That means I see my comics after everyone, but I'm fairly used to that idea. You can also see which books shipped and which didn't on your account, which is reassuring.

My first batch arrived a few weeks ago. Only two books didn't ship because of delays. Both were expected, so I'm not too worried. They also included a batch of Free Comic Book Day titles in my shipment, so I could read the Wolverine, Avengers, and Shonen Jump offerings.

The following months will tell the tale of tape to see whether the change is worth it, but so far, so good. At least I can look forward to getting comics again... even if they're not on Wednesday.

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